1. Thaddeus Young
Young was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett at the trade deadline. He has played an integral role in the Nets success since joining the team. Since joining the Nets, Young has provided a consistent presence on both offense and defense. He is averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds a game as a Net, and is shooting just under 50% from the field. In Game 2, Young was a complete mess. He shot 1 for 7 from the field, while lacking the energy the Nets were looking for. The Nets fell in a close game to the Hawks that night, and after the game, Young apologized to the team for the poor play. Young came out in Game 3 looking to make amends. He scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and led his team to victory. Young is the X-Factor for the Brooklyn Nets, and they need his strong play to take Game 4 from Atlanta.
2. Brooklyn’s Defense Against Kyle Korver
Bojan Bogdanović has been given the brutal task of tracking Kyle Korver’s every movement. Korver is known for his crazy off the ball sprinting, running all over the floor to find open shots. In Games 1 and 2, Korver was seemingly able to get away from Nets defenders all the time and caused major problems for the Brooklyn Nets. Korver averaged 19 points in those two Hawks victories and was clearly the key to the Hawks offense. However, in Game 3, Korver was absolutely shut down. From the opening tip, the Nets were being physical with Korver, and the sharpshooter could not find an easy look from the field. Every time he went around a screen, he would get bumped and shut down. Brooklyn took the initiative and did not allow Korver to get into a rhythm. Bogdanović watched a couple of shots go in on the offensive end and in turn was locked in on defense. Korver was 1 for 8 shooting (0-5 from 3 point range) in Game 3 and his lack of offense was the key to the Nets victory. Korver is an integral part of the Atlanta offense, so without his presence felt, Brooklyn might have found a vulnerability in the Hawks play.
3. Pero Antic?
Yes, my least favorite Hawk made a list of someone that actually needs to be watched. Normally, I look away from my television when I see Pero Antic involved in the action, but this time it is a little different. For the first time all season, it actually looks like Pero is playing with some confidence. His shooting numbers have not been great in the series, but there is no doubt his play has been at the very least serviceable against the Nets. He has not been hesitating and has been making some impactful plays on both sides of the ball. There have been multiple times this series in which I have had to double take and ask myself if that was really Pero Antic out there playing. Having a serviceable backup big man is a key to any playoff team, so I hope Antic can keep his play up. I have been really impressed so far with his play this series and really hope it continues.